Saturday, January 17, 2009

Take The Scenic Route

Saving Money Tip #55 - Take the Scenic Route. In today's busy world, we are usually in a hurry to get somewhere. And because of that, most of us take the highway when we have somewhere we need to go. The speeds are higher. There's no stopping and starting. And there are few distractions to take you off course. However, sometimes, it really pays to take the scenic route if you are not in a hurry.

You can save money in tolls:
If you live in the East Coast, you know that there are plenty of highways that are toll roads. And those tolls are not just a quarter or a dollar these days. The Verazanno Bridge is $10 to cross it! The toll on I-95 in Delaware is $4 each way. And the Pennsylvania Turnpike isn't cheap. It costs a couple of bucks to go about 20 miles. I'm sure other parts of the country has its share of tolls, too, although I am not personally familiar with them. However, I have found on the East Coast, by taking the scenic route - state highways or other less-traveled non-toll roads, you can avoid many expensive fees - often saving $10 or $20 per trip.

You can eat cheaply:
Going on non-main roads brings you into the heart of many cities and towns. There are many alternatives to fast food in these "hometowns." There are tasty diners and coffee shops that are frequented by locals but unknown to travelers. Often these mom and pop restaurants have good food at great prices.

You can save when buying gasoline:
Many of those gas stations right off the exits on the highways or in the travelers service station are overpriced, taking advantage of the convenience they offer you. On lesser roads, you can avoid this "convenience fee" and pay regular local prices for gas.

You may actually use less gas:
Experts on gasoline usage say that your car gets the best mileage when doing 55. But on highways, the speed limit is often 65 or even 70. On state highways, the speed limit is often 55, the perfect speed for maximizing your gasoline usage. Of course the scenic route may be longer and there may be starting and stopping, but not always.

In Real Life (IRL) - We live in part of the most-populated area of the country. We are in the DC area, and my family lives in Philadelphia. Therefore, we were traveling up the I-95 corrider quite often. But, we got sick of paying the high tolls that they were charging us on I-95: $2 each way at the Baltimore tunnels, $5 one way on the Millard E. Tydings Bridge, and $4 each way at the Delaware/Maryland border. So it cost us $17 just in tolls to visit our family. This was in addition to the high price of gas we were paying earlier this year. There wasn't much we could do about the gas prices. But we could do something about the tolls. We started traveling up Route 1 to visit our family. We still had to pay the $2 tolls at the Baltimore tunnel, but we avoided everything else.

That was $13 more we had in our pocket by taking the scenic route. And it is scenic. It has many farms, mom and pop restaurants, a huge aquaduct, and a thrift store that we like to shop at. For the $13 we save in tolls, we can feed our family dinner on the way. We sometimes find a deal or two at the thrift store. And the gas prices are cheaper than in our hometown. So we always fill up! On the negative side, for part of the ride, there is starting and stopping. And it does take us longer overall to get to our relatives' homes. But, the price we save on the tolls and at the gas station alone makes it worthwhile for us. And while not a monetary savings, my family can see beautiful scenic views of the countryside and of an historic aquaduct. These are things that we would never find on 95!


Anonymous said...

Oh yes, definitely a scenic route on Rt. 1 vs. the dreaded I-95!! BTW...where is that thrift at?? :)

Michele said...

Well the thrift is just north of the Baltimore beltway. It's a GW and frankly it stinks now. We used to stop there all of the time and would find decent things. But the prices have gotten out of control. After this past trip, I said "no more."